Wednesday, June 30, 2010

All That Sheltering Emptiness screens this weekend in Berlin at Entzaubert!

Here are the details:

Entzaubert Queer DIY Uncommercial Film Festival
Friday July 2, 7 pm (opening for Book of James)
Schwarzer Kanal
Michaelkirchstr 20
10179 Berlin

All That Sheltering Emptiness (Gina Carducci & Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore) is a meditation on elevators, hotel lobbies, hundred dollar bills, the bathroom, a cab, chandeliers, cocktails, the receptionist, arousal, and other routines in the life of a New York City callboy. Gorgeously hand-processed in full 16mm glory, All That Sheltering Emptiness explodes the typical narratives of desire, escape and intimacy to evoke something more honest. (16mm, color, optical sound, 7 min.)

Raspberry shortbread

I hate when, the first time I take a bite of food, my jaw hurts -- ouch, could this steamed kale really be that hard? It just means that I’ve been clenching all night, trying to sleep -- I liked the first time I woke up, when I’d turned to the other side and grabbed a pillow from the foot of the bed, without noticing, I mean without waking up, that was a good sign. Except then I was awake.

In the morning, Randy calls -- should we go to the Tearoom Theater? It’s something I suggested a while back, the only sex space where neither of us has gone -- we might as well go there before it closes, right? An early afternoon outing, walking there through the wind tunnel right by the Hilton, downhill and then we’re both getting stomach cramp nervousness but it’s eight dollar Tuesdays, here we are.

When you pull the curtain open, and enter into the theater it’s pitch dark -- super-loud moaning from the porn and everything smells like rotten sweat, definitely someone’s having sex around us, though. We walk through the theater and I’m nervous about sitting down in any of the seats -- it’s too dark to tell whether they’re cloth or plastic, and I remember that old sofa at the Power Exchange, I always said I wasn’t going to sit on that soggy sofa but then -- oh, no -- crabs, again!

On the other side of the theater there are two side rooms with porn, and guys sitting all around -- most of them in their 60s, it’s kind of exciting that there’s somewhere with so many older guys, are they going to have sex with one another? Or, are they just waiting for the dancers? They’re definitely not waiting for me or Randy, they look up at us and then immediately look away. I’m guessing they think we’re working, or lost. We’re not looking for them, either. I’m looking at the food machine -- raspberry shortbread. The porn is so loud it’s funny.

It’s a different crowd than I expected -- I thought it would be more Tenderloin realness, maybe someone shooting up in the corner, crack in the bathroom, people using the space to get a nap or to escape the cops, maybe some drunks. But no -- mostly older white men. A lot of them. Some older Asian men too. A few working-class guys in their 30s or 40s.

Randy says he didn’t think anyone would be there at all. Some guy comes out of one of the rooms to jerk off next to us -- he’s not unattractive, but his face is hollowed out in that addict way and his desire just looks like anger. We go back in the theater, where this time we can see better, our eyes have adjusted -- the porn on the screen is really low resolution, flickering and blurry. A few people are hooking up against the back wall, and still that smell. You can a re-entry pass for two dollars, in case you want to leave for more than 20 minutes and then return, but I don’t think we’ll be back anytime too soon.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Just for connection

Lately I barely have any libido and all. Or, it comes in short bursts like a week or two ago when I started chatting with some guy on one of those terrible cruise sites, and it turned out he lives literally a block away, and I kind of got excited. But then, an endless chat session that led only to more pain from the computer. A few emails for a few days, but nothing else. Then, he actually emailed me for the first time, but I just didn’t care anymore. It didn’t sound interesting to get together with someone who kept flaking, someone who couldn’t call me just to make an initial connection, something other than words on the screen.

I still walk outside looking for desire, but mostly that desire is one for escape. Or, if someone seems to be cruising me, then I can get excited, I guess that’s a desire for connection. Sexual connection, maybe, but more just for connection, do you know what I mean? Maybe I’m more tired than usual because of all this bloating, this bloating that ruins my rest even if I sleep, this bloating I really can’t figure out, because now it seems like it happens no matter what, right before I get in bed, or right after. Then, when I get up, it gets worse every time I drink a glass of water, a little better when I eat at first, I mean the first few times, but still I’m so exhausted, need to eat more, need to eat more and then eventually. Eventually what?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tonight: the San Francisco screening of All That Sheltering Emptiness!!!

Frameline International LGBT Film Festival
“The Experimentals” Shorts Program
Saturday June 26, 9:30 pm
Roxie Theater
3117 16th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103-3327
(Gina & I will both be in attendance!)

All That Sheltering Emptiness (Gina Carducci & Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore) is a meditation on elevators, hotel lobbies, hundred dollar bills, the bathroom, a cab, chandeliers, cocktails, the receptionist, arousal, and other routines in the life of a New York City callboy. Gorgeously hand-processed in full 16mm glory, All That Sheltering Emptiness explodes the typical narratives of desire, escape and intimacy to evoke something more honest.
(16mm, color, optical sound, 7 min.)

Ready for today

I’m having a fun time, talking to a friend visiting from out of town, and then a few other people show up -- another friend, and a few people I don’t know, and that’s fun too, kind of festive -- I don’t socialize all that much with groups of fags. Then somebody starts smoking pot -- I can smell it coming in from the other room, but I don’t say anything; I just start to panic. My friend goes in that direction too, and I start gathering up my things -- I wonder if I should just leave without saying anything, but then I can’t find my coat, and I need to use the bathroom anyway, so I go in the direction of the pot smoke, oh there my coat is, I put it on as I’m entering the bathroom -- I hope it doesn’t smell like pot.

Then I start to make my way out the door, still thinking I can leave without saying much, I need to get out right away, and my friend looks at me like he’s surprised, so I say I can’t be around smoke, and I walk to the front to get my bag, and my friend comes too, he says: there can’t possibly be any smoke in this room. I hate when people who know everything about my sensitivities tell me that I can’t possibly be as sensitive as I’ve told them, over and over.

My friend says: you know it wasn’t me. I know, I say, but you would have told them to smoke too, and he puts up his hands like he can’t handle any more, and I’m trying to find the door, almost like a comedy routine as I open the closet, my friend says: we hid the door. Then I find it, and rush outside for air; I hope I got out in time, in time to avoid the sinus drill.

Then I feel so sad, sad that I’m so sensitive. Sad that people who I know, who I’ve known for so long, refuse to do something so simple as tell someone to smoke outside. Or just don’t think about it, until afterwards. With this friend in particular, there’s a long history of this smoking issue -- years ago, when I was staying with him for several weeks in New York, I would come home and people would be smoking in the apartment, my friend would try to hide it, or say: the window’s open. He doesn’t even smoke, didn’t smoke then either -- it was just something about not wanting to limit other people’s behavior. I hate that shit.

Maybe I should’ve said: in the past, you’ve done the same thing. Instead of: you would do the same thing. Because maybe he wouldn’t, anymore, and that’s why he looked offended. Although somehow I doubt it.

Then there’s the morning, the morning with all this noise upstairs. Probably the kid who lives there is running around, running around and waking me up, running around and waking me up just at the time when I need my sleep the most, right at the end when it’s the key between feeling okay and feeling like I can’t function. Running around and waking me up but I’m trying to ignore it, ignore it so I can fall back asleep, ignore it don’t get upset just ignore it keep breathing but no. It doesn’t work. I wake up in a cloud, go out on the fire escape anyway, the fire escape in the fog, someone’s interviewing me later and I’ll probably need to take a nap. First I have to do an errand, an errand all the way in the Castro again, the Castro where I never go but now I’ve been there four times over the last week I think, because of Frameline, and that’s why I’m going there again, to submit All That Sheltering Emptiness to various festivals. The Castro is funny at this time of year, almost festive, a lot more people around -- or maybe there are always this many people, just not me. Yesterday there was a farmer’s market, a farmer’s market still open at 8 pm, what a great idea! Maybe I’ll go back for that, next Wednesday or whenever. But first I need to get ready for today.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thoughts after a preview screening of We Were Here: Voices from the AIDS Years in San Francisco (a work-in-progress)

The thing that haunts me the most from this movie is the look in the eyes of one young guy in the hospital, dying at 22, and he’s looking out at the doctor or the camera so stunned, so scared, like he’s a little kid waking up from a nightmare begging for help, help me.

There is no help. Or, there is help, but it won’t help. Nothing will.

That same look repeats itself over and over in the eyes of the guys in these photos, the archival footage from the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco, the look of mass trauma that replaces another look, another innocence, the one where shirtless guys lean against one another on the streets of the Castro and smile for the world, will this ever be the same? No, it will never be the same.

Yet I’m struck also in those pre-AIDS photos by the regimentation of the gay clone aesthetic, how homogenous these men appear, somewhat mixed in age and race but not body type or masculine adherence, and one interviewee tells us how he never felt like he could fit in, how in the ‘70s all these men were busy fitting themselves into rigidly delineated cliques and there was no place for him as an awkward tall guy with long hair and a high voice.

Someone tells us about a speech by Anne Kronenberg, Harvey Milk’s now-legendary lesbian aide, a speech she gave in 1979 after Dan White was given the most lenient sentence possible for the murder, where she ended: welcome to the ‘80s, welcome to the ‘80s, welcome to the ‘80s. And I’m not sure if that person actually said that everyone started chanting it or if that’s just the way it sounds to me. 1981: a photo in the window of the Star Pharmacy in the Castro, showing a man opening his mouth, pulling back his teeth to reveal blue lesions, and the message, “watch out -- there’s something out there.” And then, even on the cover of Blueboy magazine, beside another shirtless coverboy, welcoming you to pornographic pleasure, “A Killer: Kaposi’s Sarcoma.”

These same men, shirtless on the street in the Castro, now cradling gaunt lovers in their arms and helping one another to feel brave about death. Planning funerals and suicides instead of trips to the baths, shuttered in 1984. Lyndon LaRouche proposes a ballot measure enforcing a mandatory quarantine of all HIV-positive people. Twice.

These were men who had abandoned the hopelessness of secrecy, who had come to San Francisco for sexual splendor, who had finally grasped the invincibility of desire, and then. That shocked look in their eyes. One interviewee, a nurse, tells us how some of those eyes would soon end up in urine cups, sheltered by a paper bag, on the way to research trials to help figure out what caused AIDS-related blindness. Those men wanted their eyes to help someone else. And another interviewee says, “suddenly my way of being with gay men was okay.” Because he’d never figured out anonymous sex, but he immediately took to the sudden intimacy of helping strangers to die, holding them in the hospital and then going into the waiting room to counsel their parents, fathers who might say, “It’s harder to find out that my son is a fag than to see that he’s dying.”

Or, another interviewee, talking about a lover who was a research scientist, after they both tested positive he got them into one of the first clinical trials, a drug that was so harsh that everyone in the study died. Everyone except the interviewee, who stopped the drug because of the harsh side effects. Here he is on-screen, crying so many years later. The whole audience is crying. Some of us start crying even before the movie starts, maybe when the director, David Weissman, says he wants the movie to embolden people who survived those years to tell their stories, and to embolden people who weren’t there to ask questions.

“We all suffered, but we also became more beautiful.” One interviewee says this, but it’s also a central message of the movie: through all this mourning and loss, we have survived. We have survived as a community. I’m not so sure that’s true.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wisdom from the street!

"It's like, when a girl wears her hair in a ponytail every day, and then one day she doesn't wear her hair in a ponytail..."

Titanium dioxide

Wherever I live, I need to make sure that I have something like this fire escape. Sitting here in the sun I feel so calm, the wind on my skin. Then, as soon as I step inside I feel awful again. Will this bloating ever end? I really can’t figure out what the hell causes it -- drinking water? Eating anything at all? I definitely can’t stop either of those things; I feel like I’m trying everything else I can think of. The gastroenterologist said to take this medication for heartburn, but I don’t think I have heartburn. Could that possibly help? Especially with all these supposedly inactive ingredients: colloidal silicon dioxide, DNC red number 28, FD&C blue number 1, FD&C green number 3, FD&C red number 40, gelatin, hydroxypropyl cellulose, low substituted hydroxypropyl cellulose, magnesium carbonate, methacrylic acid copolymer, polyethylene glycol, polysorbate 80, starch, sucrose, sugar sphere, talc, titanium dioxide.

Oh, no -- that sounds awful. Really awful. Doctor says no side effects. Right. How could all those chemicals help my digestion? Meanwhile, I can’t decide if stronger contact lenses give me a headache, I mean I guess I’ve decided that they do, so I’m wearing the other ones, but the other day I actually took the wrong train -- I thought it said M, but it was the N. Although maybe I just heard the announcement wrong, maybe I wasn’t even looking at the screen. Or maybe I was looking at the screen, but it was labeled wrong. Although I didn’t notice anyone else getting off in surprise. Back to those pills: do not take if allergic to lansoprazole, they say. That’s the active ingredient. But what about the rest? I guess it would take up a lot of space to say: do not take if allergic to colloidal silicon dioxide, DNC red number 28, FD&C blue number 1, FD&C green number 3, FD&C red number 40, gelatin, hydroxypropyl cellulose, low substituted hydroxypropyl cellulose, magnesium carbonate, methacrylic acid copolymer, polyethylene glycol, polysorbate 80, starch, sucrose, sugar sphere, talc, or titanium dioxide.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Oh, no -- what happened to these plants?

Thoughts on The Owls

I’m always kind of stunned by the demographics of Frameline audiences. As I’m walking up to the Castro Theatre, almost every single person in line is a lesbian. Hundreds and hundreds of lesbians, mostly middle-aged, and of course this is great to see, but also I wonder: doesn’t anyone else want to see a lesbian-themed movie by a lesbian director? Especially a director, Cheryl Dunye, who is well-known in queer film circles for making perhaps the first black lesbian feature film, The Watermelon Woman, in 1996. And yes, this new movie, The Owls, was made specifically for a lesbian audience (as was The Watermelon Woman), but this makes it all the more important for other audiences to see it as well.

Of course, the demographics of Frameline audiences are symptomatic of divisions in gay/queer cultures, but it still surprises me to see how clearly the divides are marked. But, on to the movie. I might as well admit that I wasn’t expecting to like this film -- I knew ahead of time that the plot structure centered around a group of lesbians approaching middle age who murder a younger dyke, and then the ways that they deal and don’t deal, but mostly don’t deal. I knew that a central theme of the movie would be intergenerational tensions between lesbians, dykes, trans men, and genderqueers, but the whole thing sounded hackneyed. At the same time, I was fascinated when I heard that a pantheon of lesbian icons would be involved, including Guinevere Turner (co-director and one of the stars of Go Fish, the biggest lesbian film of the ‘90s), as well as her love interest in the film, VS Brodie, known for an iconographic butch coming-of-age moment where she cuts off her long hair on screen. Originally, I heard that former Calvin Klein supermodel Jenny Shimizu, and Silas Howard, formerly of the band Tribe 8, would also be in the cast, but this didn’t turn out to be the case.

The fact that Sarah Schulman was writing the script -- and, that it was filmed on location in Palm Springs, of all places -- did make the whole production sound fascinating. Still, I was worried it would be an exercise in 1990s lesbian nostalgia -- before we knew the final title, my dyke friends and I settled on Desert Fish (Go Fish + Desert Hearts), and we were unimpressed with The Owls as a replacement, until we learned the acronym Older, Wiser Lesbians (OWLs -- aha!).

I should always have low expectations for the movies I see -- I was only hoping for a few campy moments, but as soon as the movie opened, with band footage from the fictional lesbian band two of the characters were once part of (The Screech), to actual footage of ACT UP protests, I knew I was in for something more. The footage, both real and constructed, was gorgeous -- even when ACT UP demonstrations led to Prop 8 protesters draped in the US flag, as if they represented part of a continuum of resistance, instead of a dead-end, I wasn't thrown. The imagery was styley and sophisticated. The first good line came early, when Cricket, Deak Evangenikos’s character, the bossy queer drifter, talks about how she hates all the alpha male posturing “in our community,” and ends, “so I hit her.” She’s the one about to be murdered. And then, when Iris, Guinevere’s character, former star of the Screech, a high-end drunk who’s run out of cash, tells MJ, VS’s character, her love interest once again (although this time in the past), that she’s selling the house: “I’ll be fair -- I’ll give you half your furniture, I’ll take mine.”

Then the characters start talking to the camera, and the actors talk to the camera about their characters, sometimes split-screen. I love that shit. Cricket keeps talking to us throughout -- even though she’s dead, she still gives us insight into why she feels marginalized as a young butch genderqueer dyke: “I don’t hide my identity. I do not hide, I am hidden.” But, you know, she’s not just hidden, she’s dead!

And the whole thing takes place in two houses -- one sleek and contemporary, with puffy white sofas out by the pool, and the other giving us homey desert flair. I’ve never been to Palm Springs, so I couldn’t tell if this was filmed there or maybe somewhere else in California with more trees, are there really that many trees in Palm Springs? Deer, even. Tightly-framed shots of the architecture and vistas. Everyone remains well-lit throughout, except when they aren't supposed to be. The dialogue is sharp, hilarious. Yes, the characters veer between stereotyped and flat, but this matches the theatrical flatness of their framing. It reminds us that we're watching something contrived, which actually ends up making it feel more emotionally engaged.

The weakest part for me was actually Carol, director Cheryl Dunye’s character, someone who delivers a monologue about how all she cares about is social justice, but never asks Skye (same name in truth and fiction), the mysterious, muscled genderqueer character who shows up, fresh from fighting in Iraq, to avenge hir lover’s death, what the hell ze was doing fighting a war for oil. Perhaps we are supposed to notice that contradiction, but it doesn’t feel illuminated in the film. Dunye is stronger when playing herself, especially in the scene where she establishes the fact that it's the actors, not the characters, who are now talking, by moving the mic uncomfortably around underneath her shirt, a comedy routine.

The themes of intergenerational tension and misunderstanding are delivered without subtlety: Carol explains to Skye, a younger black queer, who Audre Lorde was, and Skye later declares (to the camera), “I fought for this country so you could live like a bunch of lazy bitches.” It’s in the closing sequence, though, just before and just after the cheesy cliffhanger ending, when we learn that the film was made with a collective structure, and different participants voice their opinions on everything from the absurdity of strict femme/butch roles, intergenerational conflict, shifting identities, and even a critique about whether The Parliament Collective was actually a collective. One participant of color describes the movie as not “raced,” because there are two black characters who are not associated with stereotypical cultural norms or affinities. Sarah Schulman describes how two gay people who have never met can run into one another in an elevator, and communicate something conspiratorial within a few floors.

A parliament is a family of owls, we learn earlier, and there is something familial about this closing sequence. It’s where the staginess of the dialogue and framing, the crispness of the editing gives way to open ruminations from participants. During the question-and-answer after the film, I believe it was Dunye who said she wanted to “make a film about us at this moment.” Indeed, the collective created a highly polished movie for $20,000 (and tons of volunteer professional labor), a tiny amount in the world of Hollywood (although certainly still inaccessible for most budding filmmakers). They created a collective structure, albeit a collective with Dunye as a leader/director, but nonetheless something very different than conventional cinema. Speaking to the cliffhanger ending of the movie, Dunye added, “the happy ending of the lesbian film is something I don’t look forward to.” And true, this film does not include a lesbian couple walking into the desert sunset, but it did leave me with a sense that intergenerational, cross-identity conversations about gender and politics might allow for communal possibilities.

Monday, June 21, 2010

At last -- the San Francisco premiere of All That Sheltering Emptiness!!!

That's right -- the San Francisco premiere of my first film, All That Sheltering Emptiness, made in collaboration with Gina Carducci, will take place at Frameline on Saturday, June 26 at 9:30pm. It's the first time tonight I will be at a screening together, yay!!! Here are the details:

Frameline International LGBT Film Festival
"The Experimentals" Shorts Program
Saturday June 26, 9:30 pm
Roxie Theater
3117 16th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103-3327
(Gina & I will both be in attendance!)

And here’s a description of the film:

All That Sheltering Emptiness is a meditation on elevators, hotel lobbies, hundred dollar bills, the bathroom, a cab, chandeliers, cocktails, the receptionist, arousal, and other routines in the life of a New York City callboy. Gorgeously hand-processed in full 16mm glory, All That Sheltering Emptiness explodes the typical narratives of desire, escape and intimacy to evoke something more honest.
16mm, color, optical sound, 7 min.

-- Barbara Hammer

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

More fog

I will admit that I’m starting to like getting up at 10 am, who knew? The thing I like the best is that I get to see the fog twice -- before, I only saw the evening fog, but now I get morning and evening! Last night I was in the Castro for the first time in a while, going to a film at Frameline, and several times I looked up at the fog behind the hills and it was almost too gorgeous. Usually I just think about that part of town as hideous and heartless, but then. Then there are those hills, oh.

I do miss night -- late night when everything clears. Last night I got home from the movie and I actually felt great, great in my head I mean -- my body was hurting so I took a shower and then I still felt kind of wired, maybe hypoglycemic but I didn’t want to eat right before bed. Maybe ready for a walk, but I didn’t want to over-tire myself. Then I got in bed and sure enough I was wired -- I guess I should’ve gone on that walk, eaten a small snack even if it would’ve made the bloating worse. Eventually I got up, ate something, got back into bed for more bloating. But I still felt okay in my head -- I liked going to the festival, seeing friends from out of town, watching the movie. I even liked the movie, which made me want to go to more movies, even though sitting in the theater always hurts my body. This time it didn’t seem that bad, maybe because it wasn’t so stuffy inside because of all that air outside. I actually sat for a whole hour without getting up, although I should’ve got enough anyway, to prevent the pain, instead of getting up when the pain starts, but I didn’t want to miss anything. Then I went out to use the bathroom, and they had the side doors open so the lobby was almost as fresh as outside, and when I got back in the movie was just about to end -- I love movies that end like that, don’t drag on until you’re just waiting. Then I went outside and looked over at that fog, dark now, waited a few minutes for a cab, thought about doing something else because I actually felt good but don’t push it, that’s what I was thinking, don’t push it, so then I came home.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hopelessness and possibility

What a weird day -- I’m frantic and exhausted, edgy and sleepy -- all at the same time until it fades and I’m just drained again. I need to leave the house, so that I’m not doing so much with my hands, but I don’t have enough energy. I did leave the house earlier, succeeded at an early errand; now I need to leave the house again. I should have written something earlier -- now I can’t even think of what to say.

Oh, I know -- I wish I didn’t wash my hair, spend so much time bringing it to perfection so that I could go on a walk for a few minutes, come back home and get ready for bed. I guess I thought maybe I was going to meet Ethan and Stephen Kent for dinner, but now I don’t even know how I would stay awake. I mean I know how I would stay awake, but I think it would be awful. Yesterday I got so wired right before bed, from trying to sound energetic on the phone, no wait first I got excited and then I crashed, but I was trying to sound like I was still excited. And then when I got off the phone I was really wired and edgy, made me think that I shouldn’t talk on the phone after 9 pm now that I have this new schedule. Or maybe that sounds too extreme -- before, I had a rule that I wouldn’t talk on the phone after 2 am, but that’s a bit different. I guess things are changing that fast, and I’m not sure if it’s a good thing.

Maybe that’s what made me frantic earlier -- I was trying to do all these things, before I lost my energy. I mean, I didn’t actually start with energy, so it was harder to do these things, but once I started doing them I kind of got wired, but never lost the exhaustion, and eventually that always makes me more exhausted.

But wait: first I’m on the phone with Stephen Kent, he says: Ethan tells me you have a new sleep schedule -- now, you’ll never do anything again. I guess he means anything out in the world, at night, social events, that kind of thing. It seems unlikely that I’ll never do any of that again, but maybe it also doesn’t matter. It’s not like what I’m doing is working, I have to try this new schedule just to see if it helps. I mean, it’s not helping yet, but it’s only been a month. Did I mention something Jen said? She said: you live in this constant state of hopelessness and possibility.

And then there’s the next day -- it’s freezing, and the air is incredible. I think there’s this new pattern, where I’m wired at the beginning of the day, is that what happens to most people? Of course I crash as soon as I eat, but then I’m trying to get things done again, because I guess this is when I have more energy. The air is so fresh, but someone’s working with some kind of hideous chemicals that are pouring into my apartment, sinuses starting to hurt and I don’t know whether to open the windows more or to close them.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Falling down

Speaking of allergies, here I am walking up the hill into an insanely cold wind -- maybe it’s the way my jaw gets tense, even with all this fresh air. Or maybe it’s what this air brings into my head, the season right here and far away, all of it. Maybe it can blow all of that away too, but when I get back down to my apartment, where the air isn’t nearly as fresh, trying to avoid the person in front of me who’s smoking, when I get back down I feel wiped out. At least I had a few hours early in the day, a few hours when I felt good. And then: the rest of the day.

But then: 20 minutes of some wired energy, just before the walk, I’m walking and I’m trying to keep this energy, even while I’m trying to let it go, so I can go to bed. I’m chewing on this toothpick, telling Randy how good this one is -- it really is like drugs, when you’re crashing and you’re trying to manage. But no -- I mean, this toothpick is amazing -- so much flavor, not all of them have this much flavor. I wish I had these toothpicks when I did drugs. What did I use instead?

Up at the top of the hill, with the cathedral and all these WASPy gardens -- petunias in a circle, with a fence -- really! Roses falling down -- roses don’t really like it here -- but there was something I was going to say about roses, what was it about roses? Falling down.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My film is showing this Saturday in Saskatchewan!

Yes, it's true -- and here are the details...

Queer City Cinema
Xtremendous Screening Seven
Saturday June 19, 9:00 pm
Neutral Ground Gallery
1856 Scarth St.
(w/snacks & cash bar)
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

All That Sheltering Emptiness is a meditation on elevators, hotel lobbies, hundred dollar bills, the bathroom, a cab, chandeliers, cocktails, the receptionist, arousal, and other routines in the life of a New York City callboy. Gorgeously hand-processed in full 16mm glory, this film is a collaboration between Gina Carducci and Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore. All That Sheltering Emptiness explodes the typical narratives of desire, escape and intimacy to evoke something more honest. (16mm, color, optical sound, 7 min.)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

In case you were wondering about the NewFest attendee bag, here are some selected contents...

I don't know what this means...

But this does sound familiar...

Oh -- what a cute t-shirt! I wonder who made it...

Oh, of course!


See -- Marc cares about all of us!

Oh -- what a coincidence...

Finally, something practical!


Monday, June 14, 2010

I almost forgot to tell you -- I finally made it to the sea lions (thanks, Kevin)!

This air

I’m sick of eating, bored of trying so hard to nourish myself, over and over and over again all day I’m eating the same thing, trying not to get too hypoglycemic, getting too hypoglycemic anyway, try not to eat anything that irritates my stomach, irritating my stomach anyway. Repeat.

And this new time schedule is ridiculous: before, I felt exhausted all day, but at least at night sometimes I would get a few hours of energy, inspiration, momentary calm. Now I just feel exhausted all day, and then at night I go to bed. It doesn’t even feel like a choice anymore -- 10 pm rolls around and all I can think about is getting in bed. Sometimes I’m waiting all day for that moment, but the difference is that now I’m literally waiting. I mean, it might be 7 pm and I already feel like going to bed, but I can’t go to bed at 7 pm. Then I can’t even imagine when I would wake up. I guess I used to do that too, on nights when I felt like I could go to bed at 11 pm, but I knew I wouldn’t really fall asleep, I would just lie in bed getting more and more wired.

Before, at least I felt surrounded by fibromyalgia, but it was weirder, not weirder to me but weirder to the world and somehow that felt comforting. Now I just hope for change, no wait things are changing, it’s just that nothing feels better, yet.

But wait. The temperature drops, the air clears -- I wake up in that cool softness, onto the fire escape at 10 am in the sun filtered through fog and I think oh, this might be the most beautiful time of the day. That’s how I know I’m in a good mood, because it is beautiful, but nothing could be as beautiful as that time just before sunset, right? Except the way this air is so soft, oh this soft air maybe this soft air can take care of me. Into the kitchen and there’s the mold, I’m sure it’s stronger because of the leak from upstairs, the leak they fixed but they said there’s no mold, of course there’s no mold but still this air oh this air could be everything I wish this air could be everything.


Does anyone know what it is that makes you more or less sensitive to the sun, I mean at different times in your life? Because, when I lived in Provincetown, I would go jogging right in the middle of the day -- I mean 11 am or noon, 45 minutes of jogging in the bright summer sun, no shirt on -- and then I would go home and go back to sleep, and then I would get up and go to the beach around 2 or 3 pm, from then until 6 or 7 -- and I never got burnt at all. I thought I was being so clever, avoiding the 10 to 2 range -- except for jogging, I guess, which was really running and I wish I could do that now. Although not in the Tenderloin, on these streets, with all this pollution. Today it’s especially bad, because we’re having a heat wave.

But anyway, now I sit in the sun for six minutes at 10 am, and it already looks like I’m burning. I guess San Francisco is further south than Provincetown -- is that what’s going on? I wasn’t burning in Chicago, Seattle, or Eugene when I was there just recently, either. Maybe a little in Eugene. Of course, Chicago and Seattle are way further north. Maybe I should go further north.

Is it possible that there’s less of an ozone layer here, with this pollution of California dreaming? I did live in Provincetown 10 years ago -- maybe we’ve lost that much of the ozone layer in 10 years.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I do like this...


When I have a sinus headache like this, it seems so much worse that the sun is still out. Of course the sun is still out -- it’s not even 4 pm yet. I have absolutely no idea what to do at 4 pm, I mean what to do at 4 pm when I’ve already been up for six hours. I guess I should go back outside, even though I don’t have any energy. What happens outside, again?

Oh, good -- the phone is ringing, a blocked number: hello?

Hello, Melody?

There’s no Melody here.

Did I get your name wrong -- this is EJ.

Oh, EJ -- he’s the guy who’s always smoking a cigar at the café down the street, he moved to San Francisco after Bush stole the election, or something like that, because he was living in Florida and he decided he just couldn’t do it anymore. Retired there, I guess -- from the military, at least at some point -- he seems nice enough, I always think I should get to know some of the older fags around here. Anyway, he says how are you? I’m exhausted, I say -- I feel terrible today.

He says: are you feeling horny, or sexy?

What? No, I’m exhausted. He says: I’m horny, do you want to come over. Me: no, I’m not interested in having sex with you. Oh, he says, how come? I’m not attracted to you. Do you want to come over? I’m not having sex with you, I say, losing the pretense of friendliness because he’s so persistent. Why, he says.

Gross. Now what do I do? I’ll have to avoid that corner on today’s walk, this is the time of day when he’ll be smoking a cigar and reading a book about metaphysical something-or-other. Before, I thought he just wanted me to come over his apartment so we could become friends. He kept talking about the pictures on his wall of naked guys, I thought maybe he thought that might entice me. But I gave him no signal whatsoever that I was interested in sex. None. I don’t know where he got that idea, I mean except in his head -- it would be fine if it stayed in his head.

Not that I don’t understand his loneliness: I’ll probably be back on craigslist in a few minutes.

Friday, June 11, 2010


This new schedule is confusing me -- I go on a walk in the blaring 1 pm sunshine. I wear this beautiful striped sun hat, but it’s always on the verge of flying off in the wind, and I worry it’ll make my neck tense again, trying to keep it on. The sun is irritating too, I keep trying to get on the side of the street where there isn’t any, because I’m worried I’m getting burnt; it happens that fast at this time of day. That’s why I’m wearing the sun hat.

Did I mention the sinus headache? What is wrong with my sinuses? Maybe it’s this time of day, when it’s more polluted. Somehow I manage to walk 10 blocks, which makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, but when I get home I already feel like my day is over. I’m not used to this new time schedule -- there’s no magic, like all the healthcare practitioners say, where suddenly my organs are getting so much rest. I’m not getting rest, because of the bloating. And then I feel like my day is over, just as it’s starting, and that’s familiar too, but somehow it’s even more irritating when it’s earlier. What do I do with the rest of my day?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I'm on NPR, today!!!

Here I am on the nationally broadcast NPR program Tell Me More, talking about marriage and assimilation and That's Revolting, and, of course, more...

And then...

And then there’s this moment in the morning when anything is possible -- I need to mark this moment right away, before it’s just a moment, that moment, where was that moment, again? I know this is before I’d eaten anything, I know I woke up in sinus headache horror, but then the air cleared my head, or cleared it enough for the music to stretch everything out and now there’s this moment, this moment before I eat, before.


What’s worse than waking up hours before I’m supposed to, just because there’s a time when I’m supposed to get up, an hour or two before usual, but then I wake up every half hour thinking I’ve overslept? Or, actually, I kind of stay awake, so even when I’m sleeping I’m thinking about whether I overslept. There’s this dream where I look at the clock and it says 9 am, music instead of a beep, and then I get back in bed and fall asleep -- wait, was that a dream, or did it happen? I wake myself up, just to make sure that didn’t really happen: 6 am.

Oh, I know what’s worse -- when my belly is in contortions all night, the bloating, burping to try to release it but it just stays stuck. What caused it this time? Maybe I ate too late, but I got home from sucking this guy’s cock, walking to and from his house with that blast down my throat in between and wow, walking out of his house I just felt so sexually present like this should always continue, from one to the other, but then after a few blocks I was exhausted again, and when I got home I felt like I’d better eat, just in case I was too exhausted to fall asleep. But what if it was his come that’s causing this bloating -- I mean, it definitely wasn’t what I usually eat. The hottest part was when he kind of said take my load but it was quiet like he wasn’t sure he wanted to say it out loud but he wanted to, or maybe he didn’t want to mess up his concentration, and then. And then here I am again, in bed in all this pain, trying to sleep.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Enough energy

I can’t decide if I’m just not used to this new time schedule, or if it’s making me more tired. I go outside for a few minutes, and then when I get back I don’t really have any desire to go out again, and it’s only 3 pm. I start cruising online, even though I banned myself -- I’m trying to find something that will give me energy, even if it’s just the energy of trying to find energy. No, that’s not enough -- it’s when I forget that I’m just trying to find energy, and I start thinking that maybe I actually have energy. Then I remember. 5 pm comes around, and it feels like the end of the day. But where was the day? Is this the day?

There are some pretty dramatic changes. Not only do I get super-exhausted way earlier, and actually fall asleep, but I’m able to stop eating a few hours before bed. Although, yesterday, maybe I should’ve eaten a bit later -- in bed, I got way too wired, although that might’ve been because of the homeopathic remedy, I took a higher dose and it made me so calm, but then maybe I should’ve eaten too. It’s hard to figure out where exactly to stop, so that I’m not too hypoglycemic, but also so that it doesn’t wreck my digestion too much, contribute to the bloating, the stomach pain, the intestinal cramps.

My water delivery started yesterday. It does taste fresher, that’s for sure. There was less bloating last night. I guess we’ll see. Should I go on a walk again? I’m not sure if I have enough energy.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

This thing called health

On a day like today, I’m tempted to move before I move. Because it’s so humid, the mold in my apartment is worse, I feel it in my nostrils. The worse I feel, the more I’m inside. The more I’m inside, the worse I feel. Usually it’s at least some comfort when I open the door and step back in, but not when the mold is like this.

This thing called health: I don’t know what the hell it is. But wait -- the next day the air clears, and am I clearer too? At least this healthcare practitioner gives direct answers, like when I ask about fluoridated water, and he says: I wouldn’t touch it! I already know that fluoride is an industrial contaminant, but he says that governments started fluoridating water in the 1970s to pacify the movements of the ‘60s, because it toxifies your brain -- the first thing Hitler did was fluoridate the water, he says, like all of this is an incontrovertible fact. But, oh no, when I ask about nuclear contamination in Santa Fe, he says: I wouldn’t go there for one day. He isn’t necessarily telling me not to go there, but he is saying that he thinks the groundwater is so contaminated from Los Alamos that you can’t do anything to avoid the nuclear residue. He doesn’t say: there’s no safe level of nuclear exposure, but I already know that. I ask him where I can get more information about the risks in Santa Fe, but he doesn’t know. So I don’t know about what he thinks.

He does warn me against an ingredient that’s in almost every supplement, magnesium stearate, which is apparently a hydrogenated oil, and it’s so hard for me to digest even healthy oils. That kind of information is helpful. He thinks all my problems are caused by the time when I took antibiotics for four years in a row, from age 12 to 16 or so, or maybe even longer, when they were prescribed to me for acne, supposedly no health risks, right? Right. But anytime some healthcare practitioner narrows in on one thing, I get suspicious.

He recommends supplements that could be helpful. He takes my pulses, says: you should be feeling better! No kidding. He’s impressed that I’ve been vegan for so long, I notice it in the way that he tests me -- not even dairy, he asks. I already know he’s vegan, but he recommends strange non-vegan supplements like goat colostrum, the mother’s milk, which sounds a bit difficult to acquire in an ethical way. He says fluoride makes your thinking rigid, the first thing he did when they fluoridated the water was to go down to the spring at Half Moon Bay and fill up 40 gallon jugs. I can see his own thinking narrowing when he questions me about veganism -- not in the way that happens with non-vegans, when they want to inject you with animal protein, but in the vegan way: everybody’s suspicious unless they’re pure. I’m no longer interested in purity. I tell him about getting so desperate that I tried eggs and fish. Eggs, he says -- not eggs! He thinks I might never be able to digest oils -- I can keep trying, but it may never work.

I learn some things; I find some new ideas to try. At the end, he says: I think now you’re ready to get better. I guess that’s supposed to sound supportive. What do you mean, I say. Before you are ready, he says: you took the antibiotics. What do you mean, I say -- I was 12, I didn’t know they were dangerous. Still, he says, you chose them. And you chose your family.

I can discard this New Age garbage, but what worries me is that some people might not be able to. I remember this from last time, when I saw this practitioner a few years ago -- he did the same thing right at the end, maybe that’s why it took me a while to go back.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

A quick glimpse of a splinter group (?) from the Gaza protest, from my window... (And now, sirens)

What they have to offer

Okay, so I’m lying in the dentist’s chair, thinking about all this pain no let’s not think about the pain let’s think of it as stimulating my nerve endings, the nerve endings in my gums, this is just a cleaning but wow does it hurt -- I don’t think he’s drilling, but why does it hurt so much? I guess I waited two years, instead of coming back in six months. At least I get up every 10 or 15 minutes to stretch, that helps a lot, and then afterwards when I walk outside my gums still definitely hurt, but I do feel calmer. Maybe it’s the 6 pm light, I do love this light. Now, when I go on a walk early in the day, a short walk because I’m too tired for anything more than a few blocks, but when I go on that walk it’s so bright out I get a headache. Really. Maybe that’s why people wear sunglasses. Or maybe I already had a headache, and it just gets worse. Another day to get through, to get through so that I can figure out how to deal with the bloating again. Another night of trying to sleep through the discomfort -- wait, should I get up? Do I have to get up?

Well, I’ve ordered purified water for delivery -- we’ll see if that helps. Although, if it’s the fluoride in the water that’s making me sick, then it’s been making me sick for a long long time, right? Two healthcare appointments coming up: one holistic, one conventional. I’m worried about the conventional one, I gastroenterologist -- will they want me to get some horrible procedure that will end up giving me more pain but no new knowledge? Will I have to explain everything to them, while they refuse to understand anything? I’m desperate enough to see what they have to offer.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Israel: the most effective proponent of anti-Semitism in the world

I can’t help thinking: what will Israel do next? They’ve annihilated Gaza, and continue to murder civilians at will, while holding the people of Gaza hostage and refusing to allow aid inside. They attacked an unarmed aid convoy of over 600 peace activists, including members of the European Parliament (and one Israeli member of Parliament), former ambassadors, and media workers from all over the world -- in international waters. They still have not released the names of the people they killed in this attack. They’ve escalated their policy of brutalizing peaceful Palestinian and Israeli demonstrators, to deliberately target members of the International Solidarity Movement, most recently a US student who lost an eye after she was deliberately shot in the face with a teargas canister while standing alongside a protest of only 20 people -- from less than 50 feet away. Really -- what will the Israeli government decide to do next?

Norman Finkelstein talks about the Israeli government as a lunatic government, and that, of course, opens up the question of whether they will try to nuke Iran. With US approval, of course. As all permanent members of the UN Security Council (except the US ) call for the end of the Gaza blockade, and an independent investigation of Israel’s murderous rampage, the US still thinks an impartial Israeli investigation would be a great idea. Of course, it’s not that an independent investigation will do much anyway (remember the Goldstone Report?), unless somehow the US is made to force Israel to change course. And how will that happen? Just a few weeks ago, the U.S. Congress voted 410 to 4 to approve $205 million more military aid for Israel. That’s right -- 410 to 4.

I wonder about the strategy of protesting outside the Israeli consulate or embassy. It works because it’s universal, people know that’s where to go whenever Israel decides to murder, imprison, or torture more innocent civilians. But why not US consulates and embassies? Or, in the US, any of those 410 Representatives. Because Israeli policy will not change one bit until US policy changes.

But what will get US policy to change? Really -- what will work? It seems that the US is so much a part of funding Israeli criminality that Israel could hold the whole Obama family hostage and say they were part of al-Qaeda, and then the US government would release a statement saying, “We call for an impartial Israeli investigation.” At least in Israel, the papers try to report on the news. Here we only get reports that Israel boarded the ship with paintball guns -- that’s right, paintball guns. You know -- like the ones that animal rights activists use to protect seals from slaughter. Or, that people use to alter billboards. That’s all the Israeli military was doing in their commando raid, planned a week ahead of time -- it was self-defense, right? Because, when you hijack a ship in international waters, you are the ones acting in self-defense. When some of the people on board try to protect themselves with lawn chairs, protect themselves from Israeli military personnel armed with machine guns (a few with paint guns attached), pepper spray, stun grenades, pistols and tazers -- that means that when these military personnel start murdering people, it was all in self-defense. Or maybe it was just paintball, like the US media likes to report.

I’m wondering also about the strategy of boycott, divestment, and sanctions, modeled after the movement against South African apartheid. Of course I support it as a start, but look at South Africa now -- sure, Apartheid is officially over, but economic inequality has increased. Violence against impoverished civilians now comes at the hands of a black-run State, but who does this help? Or, as Frank Wilderson says in his brilliant book Incognegro: a Memoir of Exile & Apartheid, the new South Africa is “a White state with a Black face.” What does that mean for the narrative of incremental change? What are the other options?

Of course, Israel is a long long way from anything even approaching incremental change in the right direction -- for now, it’s a prison camp for most Palestinians. While a “two-state solution” is the most popular call in the US, this would just take down the walls in the prison camp. A one-state solution, such as argued by Ali Abunimah in One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict-- one state where everyone holds the same rights -- makes more sense as a long-term solution. But really, I question the idea that the Zionist Israeli power structure could ever work within a non-Zionist (antiracist) government. And I have no idea how to get rid of the stranglehold of Zionist ideology from the Israeli (or US) public.

The Israeli state is becoming the most effective proponent of anti-Semitism in the world. All over the world, people equate Jewishness with the violence of a genocidal government. I even hear it among radical, politicized activists. The history of individual, institutional, and structural anti-Semitism goes back several thousand years, but it’s as if Israel is intent on upping the ante -- forget that stereotype about Jews as the ones who control the banks, those cheapskates ready to cheat you out of your hard-earned pennies -- now they’re ready to gun you down for “religious freedom,” “tolerance,” and “safety.” It’s not dramatically different from other extremist uses of religious fervor, but, with the spectre of the Nazi Holocaust as the backdrop, and the Zionist lobby in control of Congress and corporate media, few people in the US will call for the end of the state of Israel. Perhaps that’s the beginning we should be looking for.